Over 1,000 members of the Yale community visited Commons on Saturday in search of affordable housing in the Elm City.
Yale’s second-ever Housing Fair, hosted for the first time by the Yale Housing Office, brought together dozens of vendors, landlords, property owners and local businesses to provide graduate students and other members of the Yale community with information concerning housing options in New Haven. Although vendors and students felt the fair was helpful, they said affordable housing remains difficult to find in New Haven. Students said they often feel overwhelmed by the process of finding accommodation, and many small off-campus landlords struggle to compete with large vendors closer to downtown.
“It’s difficult to find really good housing,” Graduate Student Assembly Steering Committee member Brian Dunican GRD ’15 said. “You may be able to find housing, but for people who have had problems with landlords, there’s not many places they can turn.”
Fair attendance increased by 700 this year, up from the 300 attendees and 18 vendors, most of which were large property owners, present at the 2014 Housing Fair.
Forest City Property Manager Tracy Goguen said there was “no comparison” between this fair and the one held last year.
“We feel it is important to offer our community the opportunity, in one venue, to see the various options available to them,” Director of Graduate and Professional Student Housing George Longyear said in a press release.
All 20 students interviewed said both fairs addressed the difficulty of finding affordable housing close to Yale’s campus. Many students mentioned how challenging it can be to find an off-campus apartment, especially for first-year students who are not familiar with the New Haven area.
The vendor Elm Campus Partners could only offer two available units of their total 521 units in New Haven. ECP Tenant Associate Bill Ruth said such low availability is common during the off-season, adding that 18 new units will open at 911 Dixwell Ave. in the fall.
Roger Sheu GRD ’20, said he was “on the fence” about whether to live on or off campus, and the fair had helped him decide where he was going to live next year.
“You’re kind of rushed when you first come to Yale,” said Neil Bajaj GRD ’20, who was unhappy with the property he found on Craigslist last year. Bajaj said he appreciated that Yale had screened all the vendors at the fair, as many property owners can be irresponsible and unfair.
Properties offered at the fair ranged from single-bedroom apartments with costs of roughly $700 per month to four-bedroom houses with monthly rents of $5,000.
Although the fair was geared toward students living off-campus, it was not a direct response to the upcoming renovations to on-campus graduate housing, Graduate Housing Manager Melanie Pagan said. However, she said she thought the event still catered to students who are thinking about housing options two years from now.
“It’s is not a reaction to [the renovations to the Hall of Graduate Studies], but it obviously helps,” said Pagan. Currently, roughly 80 percent of graduate students live off campus.
Wendy Xiao GRD ’17, a member of the University-wide Housing Committee, said she believes the number of students living off campus will not change much in the near future.
Yale Police and Yale Public Safety also had tables at the fair to provide information to graduate students, who often live in close proximity to campus. These organizations helped the fair address housing needs in a more comprehensive way, Director of Media Strategy & Project Management Lisa Maloney said.
In addition to the fair, the Housing Office plans to host smaller monthly events for graduate students who live off-campus to provide more information on housing.